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Tesla’s base Model 3 may not arrive in Australia until 2020

Written by Bridie Schmidt / 7 March 2019 / The Driven

The most affordable version of Tesla’s Model 3 electric sedan is now available in the US, but there will still be a wait for those in other parts of the world, according to CEO and founder Elon Musk.

The Tesla Model 3 has been a game changer for the electric vehicle market, becoming the best-selling car in its class in 2018 and its arrival in Australia in mid-2019 will also mark a major milestone for the local automotive market.

With an asking price starting at $US35,000 (just under $A50,000 at today’s rates, but before GST and other add-ons)) before incentives and fuel cost savings, the addition of the “Standard range” Model 3 last week to Tesla’s US configurator was so gladly received it sent the EV maker’s website into meltdown.

Tesla also added a second upgraded version of the base Model 3 to its website, known as the “Standard Range Plus”, which for an additional $US2,000 gives the driver 20 miles (32km) more range, 10mph (16km/hr) higher top speed and a slightly faster acceleration of 0.3 seconds from 0-60mph (0-96.5km/hr).

However, although the more expensive Long Range and Performance versions of the Model 3 are now being delivered to long waiting customers in Europe and China, there will still be a wait for those wanting to purchase the cheaper versions.

Following the announcement of the Tesla Model 3 on Friday, Musk stated via social media channel Twitter that the base versions would arrive in Europe in around 6 months, with Asia in 6 to 8 months.

The Model 3 is slated to arrive in Australia in mid-2019, but it is expected that the Long Range and Performance will be the versions first made here in Australia, as has been the case overseas.

If the arrival of the base Model 3 follows the same delay as its appearance in China (about 4 months), this means that Aussies may not see the base Model 3 until early 2020.

That is of course dependent on when right hand drive versions of the base model begin production – Musk confirmed in a press conference on Friday that a blend of high and low-priced models would be in production at the same time, which suggests that the RHD base Model 3 production could start sooner than later.

With both the UK and Australia are patiently awaiting the start of RHD production, reports that Tesla has registered at least 2 RHD VINs has many reservation holders hopes up that a mid-2019 arrival in both countries will be achieved.

Of course, registration of VINs does not mean those cars have yet been built, but it is a step in the right direction.

When the base version of the Model 3 does arrive, it’s worth taking note that Musk himself has suggested that the Standard Range Plus version is better value for money.

“For a small amount more you can get basically a whole lot more like roughly 6% price increase gets you … almost 10% range increase and a 6% power increase and … mostly towards the premium interior,” he said at Friday’s press conference.

Worldwide, demand for the Model 3 is expected to be up to 500,000 units per year (annualised). Although Tesla has not released numbers of how many reservation holders there are in Australia, Musk said on Friday that those holding reservations would have first choice to purchase the base Standard Range Model 3 once it arrives.

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